Rumor: iPhone 5 due in September, iPad mini in August, iPad 4 in Q4

Citing sources close to Apple’s supply chain, Asian hit-and-miss trade publication DigiTimes reported this morning that Apple will launch a sixth-generation iPhone in September, followed by the long-rumored seven-inch iPad mini in August and a fourth-generation iPad in the fourth quarter of this year.

According to the report, Pegatron has reportedly landed orders for the next iPhone while Foxconn is said to manufacture the seven-inch iPad mini, presumably designed to tackle the lower-end of the tablet market currently occupied by Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire tablet…

Standard caveat applies here, folks: take this report with a healthy does of skepticism as DigiTimes is a mixed bag with respect to the Apple rumors biz.

So, here’s right from the DigiTimes claim chowder:

To mainly focus on Apple’s orders, Pegatron has also internally decided to downsize its SI motherboard department and to shift resources to Apple’s orders. Since Asustek has been reducing its motherboard orders to Pegatron, while gross margins are also rather low, the shifting in resources is expected to benefit Pegatron in its operations, the sources noted.

Pegatron, which currently produces the iPhone 4S and the new iPad, has reportedly re-tooled its factories and is ready to assemble the next iPhone model.

Pegatron has already finished expanding its equipment and labor force for Apple’s orders.

Pegatron and Foxconn are Apple’s favorite contract manufacturers, but Shenzen-based Foxconn gets by far the biggest portion of orders from apple.

Now, we’ll believe a new iPad form factor when we see it.

Likewise, we’re not so sure about the fourth-generation iPad launching in the Q4 2012.

The iPad 3 launched in March and Apple likes to stick to a yearly release schedule for the iPad. Well-connected Apple pundit John Gruber recently likened the idea of another iPad this year to “a completely made-up nonsense”.

And in spite of common wisdom, I’m also torn regarding a smaller, 7.85-inch iPad. In case you were wondering, here’s what it would look like next to its 9.7-inch sibling.

On the other hand, the iPad mini might not need a re-write of existing apps, as some folks argued, because the size of user interface elements rendered on a 7.85-inch display would still conform to Apple’s guidelines.

A smaller display in conjunction with existing manufacturing processes would certainly let Apple price the iPad mini even more aggressively than the $399 16GB Wi-Fi-only iPad 2.

With the high-end covered by the new iPad and the middle-end addressed with the iPad 2, Apple has thus far conceded the low-end of the market to Amazon’s seven-inch Kindle Fire tablet, which retails for only $199.

The Fire took off to a pretty big start, becoming the best-selling Android tablet. However, per latest IDC data, the device has plummeted from a 16.8 percent share in Q4 2011 to just four percent share in Q1 2012.

Apple’s late co-founder famously dissed seven-inchers, remarking in a conference call with investors these would need to ship with sandpaper so users could sand down their fingers in order to hit tiny icons on the screen.

DigiTimes also reported this morning that Foxconn is set to open a 10,000 square meter state-of-the-art China headquarters in Shanghai. Completion is scheduled for 2015 and the offices will serve as Foxconn’s new operating facility, as well as a research & development and sales center.

Do these iPad and iPhone launch dates make sense to you? I mean, two new iPhones by year’s end, how wacky is that.

It would certainly be prudent to launch the next iPhone sooner than later.

Samsung in the first quarter beat Apple to the smartphone punch, the fact the iPhone maker even mentioned in court documents. Plus, the South Korean conglomerate has just launched its third-generation Galaxy S smartphone.

Note: Even though iDB and pretty much every media outlet out there refers to the next iPhone as the iPhone 5, w’re pretty confident Apple will drop the numerical suffix altogether and simply call the device “the new iPhone”.

The above Liquidmetal iPhone 5 concept is credited to French designer Antoine Brieux.